a woman hiding behind a nebulizer machine

Nebulizer PTSD

Last updated: March 2022

Hate is a very strong word. While there are many things I dislike about asthma, there is one thing that I absolutely hate. Steroids are an obvious first, but for me, my nebulizer comes in a close second. I hate my nebulizer. With a passion. It is one of those love-hate relationships, but much more hate than anything else. The only “love” is that I can breathe better when I use it, but to be honest, there are many days when I prefer the struggle to breathe over using my nebulizer. Most of the time, I settle for a few puffs on my inhaler, even though I know I would feel better with a breathing treatment.

But why this hatred? There are a few reasons really, but you would think I would like to breathe better by using my nebulizer. That’s common sense, right?

The jitters

If you have ever had a breathing treatment (or two or three in a row), you know exactly what I am talking about. I get shaky and my pulse rate goes up. It gives me a creepy, crawly sensation. I have had to be on continuous breathing treatments in the past and the shaky feelings just never, ever stop.

The claustrophobia

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if I am using the mask or the mouthpiece on my nebulizer, but I do prefer the mouthpiece over the mask. The mask makes me claustrophobic. The aerosolized particles drip down my face and make my nose run. I just do not like it.

The time suck

Breathing treatments are not quick. They can last between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on how much solution you have to use. Combine the above two reasons, and it is easy to understand why even those few minutes can be tortuous. Yes, I can play on my phone or watch TV while I am doing a treatment, but it does not make me like the process any better or make it go any faster.

My nebulizer PTSD

And worst of all is the negative feelings that come from using a nebulizer. I only ever have to use it when I am really, really sick; when I do not feel good and cannot breathe (obviously). I feel that these associated feelings can be considered PTSD, or at the very least, I am conditioned to have those negative feelings when I have to use my nebulizer.

The alternative

Ahh, my inhaler. With its beautiful blue spacer attached. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s almost (but not really) as effective as my nebulizer. While it still gives me the jitters and increased heart rate, the symptoms are not as bad. And since a puff takes about 20 seconds total, if that, the claustrophobia and time commitment just is not there. I use my inhaler on better days and bad days the same, so I do not have the same negative emotions attached to using it as I do my nebulizer.

Which do you prefer? Your nebulizer or inhaler? Both? Let me know down in the comments, I would love to hear what you think!

This is not medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about your medications and follow their recommendations.

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